Cocunut Coir–seed starting
What are the board’s thoughts on using Coconut Coir for seed starting? I’m curious with regards to both seed starting and initial potting up after true leaves appear. Last year i used peat pods to start seeds and then potted up in a miracle grow potting mix. Does the coconut coir have sufficient nutrients to last between potting up and garden transplant? If not, what kind of fertilizer should I use–I have various tomato ferts but have never used them at potting up and I know that dilution is very important here.
I’m not married to coconut coir if people have had bad experiences, but I’d like to identify a non-peat alternative.
I’ve used coir (coconut fiber) for three years in a row now. I also use other products for seed starting like peat based mixes with perlite. Just depends on who’s got what on sale.
The coir is economical and easy to use. Coir also is sustainable (renewable annually) product where spagnum moss is mined from limited, ancient resources.
Some coir sold in bricks is much coarser and has longer fibers than other coir that is finely ground, like in the pellets. But what I’ve found best is mixing the coir with 25% coarse sand or 50/50 with a cheap bag mix like Plantation seed starting mix made from peat and perlite.
The nutrient value of any seed starting mix, whether made with peat or coir, is negligible. Neither is going to give you any nutrients to speak of. I depend on the plants to tell me when they need a nutrient boost, like when the cotyledons or first true leaves begin to yellow.
If the yellowing is even and progressive from the leaf tips inward, I feed the seedlings Miracle Gro or Peters at 1/2 strength and say 1/3 gallon per cell tray bottom watered. If the yellowing is lacey patterned (intervenal chlorosis), I add a tablespoon of Epsom salts per gallon of blue water. If the intervenal chlorosis is advanced, I add 1 tsp. Ironite per gallon of blue water with the Tbs. Epsom salts.
Usually it takes only one feeding per plug tray between 4 to 6 weeks of age to carry the seedlings to the garden unless they are held longer than 8 weeks.
In cases where the seedlings show signs of nutrient deficiency while they are outside harding up or holding in 4-inch pots, I might give them one more feeding (overhead and foliar) from a sprinkling can mixing 1 Tbs. Miracle Gro or Peters, 2 Tbs. Epsom salts, 1 Tbs. Ironite in 2 gallons of water (I use 2-gallon sprinkling cans).
As far as using coir for container grown tomatoes, I have a friend who grows tomatoes commercially in hoop houses and plants 2 indeterminate vines per 5-gallon grow bag filled with 100% coir fiber he buys in blocks shipped from India. He has 5 hoop houses with probably a total of 2,500 tomato plants and has excellent results using coir exclusively. He grows Geronimo, Trust, Big Beef and Fabulous this way (just saying he grows greenhouse cultivars and field cultivars under plastic hoops and in coir medium). He fertigates 4 nutrient injections per 24 hour cycle with a high percentage phosphorus solution, plus a calcium injection once per day. His tomatoes are beautiful.
What are the board's thoughts on using Coconut Coir for seed starting? I'm curious with regards to both seed starting and initial potting up after true leaves appear. Last year i used peat pods to start seeds and then potted up in a miracle grow potting mix. Does the coconut coir have sufficient nut…